How do you follow up on 2018s Down Below? If the 2015 album Children of the Night was on my top 10 list of all the albums of the 2010’s, Down Below was the undisputed number one. I love every single one of the nine songs on that album, I love the way it sounds, I love the way it’s put together, and I love how it makes me feel. The grande elegance, the sheer power, the dark melodies… It’s just massive! Having lived with it for three years now, I just don’t hesitate to rank it not only among the best swedish albums of all time, and not only among the best extreme metal albums of all time, but even among my favourite albums of all time. It’s Slaughter of the Soul for the 10’s, it’s just the ultimate swedish metal experience. Perfection.
So I guess the big problem for Where the Gloom Becomes Sound is just that. How do you top something that’s perfect? Most artists choses to do something completely different. Or like At the Gates or Dissection, who just broke up. Tribulation takes on the probably hardest path, to stay in the familiar soundscapes and… doesn’t try to remake the earlier album (or albums), but try to make another one of the same kind. Of course, it works. Opening track In Remembrance sends cold chills down my spine. Leviathans adds to the list of great hit songs among earlier greats like Melancholia and Nightbound. Also Dirge of a Dying Soul and Funeral Pyre feels like new classics, and the candle burns out beautifully in the epic closure The Wilderness.
I should be enthusiastic. The album is quite great. But it doesn’t feel that great. Because of the songs? No. Because of the sound? No. It’s simply just because the formula has been made before so unbelievably good that it makes this album feel smaller. Still, if Where the Gloom Becomes Sound is the first Tribulation album you’ll hear, my guess is you’ll love it and that you imediately will get the urge to check out the earlier masterpieces. For us already in love with the band, we won’t be as overwhelmed. But that’s okay! My feeling is that this album won’t break new grounds for the band, but it’s the one we can all return to in years to come, having worn the earlier (and later?) masterpieces to death, realizing there is so much more to discover on this underrated, great, album.
Title: Where the Gloom Becomes Sound
Label: Century Media
Date of release: 29/1-21
Standout track: In Remembrance